• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Evaluate Shakespeares portrayal of Nature and loyalty in King Lear up to Act 2 Scene 1?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Evaluate Shakespeare?s portrayal of Nature and loyalty in King Lear up to Act 2 Scene 1? The theme of nature pervades King Lear throughout, and forms a large basis of the topic of the play. It is thanks to the idea of nature that we can see the characteristics of characters, for instance the degree of their loyalty, and their progression throughout the play in relation to their belief of ?nature?. Nature, however, in King Lear can be a complex matter, and is best divided into three main areas. There is ?Nature? in itself, essentially seen as a force more powerful (perhaps omnipotent), by some characters and ?removed? from the human world. Then there is ?nature?- that is the nature of characters and their personalities, and finally the ?natural?- the characters? own individual view whether something is in their eyes ?natural? or not. These three sub-topics heavily inter-link with each other during the play, and essentially help constitute each other too. However, ?nature? on its own is harmless. It is human influence that creates the disharmony that mentions of ?nature? appear to portray. It is therefore first appropriate to explain how ?nature? first causes such unrest. The opening dialogue of the opening scene introduces us to Gloucester?s view of what is natural or not. ?I have so often blushed to acknowledge him?the whoreson must be acknowledged? lets us know that, although accepting that Gloucester by blood his own son, he believes in the natural order and therefore sees his son Edmund as illegitimate and a bastard. ...read more.

Middle

The ?battle? of malign versus benign nature best defines and groups the contrasting ?natures? in the play, and categorising the characters into these groups is important in ascertaining the motives, and loyalty, of the characters. From the evidence we can draw in the opening scene we can categorise Cordelia?s nature as ?good?. She does not use false, wholly empty flattery to attempt to please her father: ?Love, and be silent? is a genuine display of love for her father, and evidences her integrity and loyalty, to which Lear is sadly blind. Gonerill and Regan, after stating their plot to ?do something i?theat?, are essentially directly contrasted to their benevolent sister and therefore are malign characters. The animal imagery that is associated with them- ?wolvish visage..serpent?s sooth? indicate the unnaturalness of their behaviour in comparison to how they should behave if they observed the natural social order. Edmund?s reaction to Gloucester?s assertion of the ?natural order? most definitely makes him the ?bad?, or ?evil? and disloyal character, his deceitful letter highlighting his malcontent, and his Machiavellian character (based on writer Niccolo Machiavelli?s 16th century character, who took delight in their own manipulative evil and were synonymous with the devil). Kent and the Fool, the only other ?major? characters in Act I, have a loyal and good nature- their common goal is to help Lear achieve insight, and prevent the evil that the malign-natured characters are trying to impose. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gloucester?s stubborn belief in the ?nature? of his sons not only causes his downfall in the long run, but is also used against him as a method to undermine him further; this belief in the natural order clearly does him no favours. The irony is almost needless to be mentioned- Edmund, through his acting, pretends to hold the same view that his father does by classifying Edgar as unnatural, though it is this brandishing of whether a character is natural or not that Edmund loathes, and is in fact is actually the central reason for his rise against his father. Gloucester?s blind nature of course means that he is truly fooled, and as as a result misplaces his loyalty into Edmund by stating he is a ?loyal and natural boy?- dramatically ironic as we know the true extent of Edmund?s loyalty. This bold and malign nature of Edmund reflects and is explained by what he sees ?Nature? as. His claim in his second scene soliloquy- ?Nature art my goddess?- highlights how he sees Nature as a more powerful force, and a motivator, or motivation to drive him forward in his evil ways. He has a theory of his own nature- ?the maidenliest star?twinkled on my bastardisig? ?that his nature would have been evil whatever star he was born under- and this epitomises his self-motivated character. Also, what makes him especially fearful is the fact that instead of accepting a god, he adopts nature as his god, suggesting that his evil may be without limits. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level King Lear section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level King Lear essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Consider the role of the Fool in King Lear. How important is he ...

    4 star(s)

    such as Michael Horderns, try to avoid the 'clown role' when it comes to casting the Fool. This superiority can justify his independence but maybe Bayley was right, as the function of the Fool in the early scenes can be effective but it is this function that loses importance as the play goes on.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    King Lear. The seeds of tragedy are sewn in Act 1 scene 1. To ...

    3 star(s)

    Some readers and critics would argue that it is not entirely Lear's love test that causes the inevitable events, but Cordelier's refusal to go along with the love test as she is aware of the cruelty of her sisters.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The influence Act 1 has on the rest of the play in King Lear

    3 star(s)

    This therefore gives slight reason for Edmund to turn against his father, as he has always been the ashamed one; thus also displaying a strong sense of hunger and leads to joint forces of evil to rid the good of their physical and mental wealth.

  2. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the Fools main function is to play three major roles. ...

    Thus he tells Lear, "thou madest thy daughters thy mother: for... thou gavest them the rod and puttest down thine own breeches. When Lear asks, "Dost thou call me fool, boy", the Fool replies, " All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou was born with"(Act 1, Scene IV).

  1. King Lear - A commentary on Edmund's soliloquy in Act I Scene ii.

    In contrast to this Edmund paints the conception of a legitimate child as a mundane routine task, ""the creating of a whole tribe of fops/Got 'tween sleep and wake." By referring to legitimate children as "fops" or fools he is making bastards out to be better than them, using the

  2. Explore the ways in which Shakespeare presents the characters of Edmund and Edgar in ...

    Although the audience cannot forgive Edmund for all that he has done, Shakespeare creates this redeeming moment so that the character will not die hated by the audience. The progression of Edgar and of Edmund as opposing characters is presented by Shakespeare through the amount and what each has to say.

  1. To What Extent Can King Lear Be Described as the Tragic Hero of Shakespeares ...

    'Which of you shall we say doth love us most That we our largest bounty may extend Where nature doth with merit challenge?' (1,1,50-52) He is easily flattered by Goneril and Regans declarations, in which they claim to love their father more than anything and anyone.

  2. Compare and contrast madness: its possible causes; its manifestations; its consequences; and its resolution, ...

    In King Lear, the reversal of roles is a further expansion of the disarray caused by Lear's madness and subsequent decisions. Following Lear's surrender of the crown, one finds oneself in a kingdom not only of chaos but of switching roles.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work